Tamil Nadu Elections 2019: One of the most interesting battles in the Lok Sabha elections will be set in Tamil Nadu, the largest South Indian state going to elections after the demise of two of its tallest leaders M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalitha. The state with 39 seats is crucial for the fortunes of both BJP and Congress. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks at the state to make good any loss he may suffer in the North Indian states where he managed to win most seats. For Rahul Gandhi also, the southern state along with neighbouring Karnataka and Kerala is crucial as he seeks to emerge as a national alternative to Prime Minister Modi.
All 39 Lok Sabha seats of Tamil Nadu will go to poll in the second phase on April 18. This is the first election after demise of two of its tallest leaders J Jayalalitha and M Karunanidhi. J Jayalalitha’s party AIADMK had swept the state in 2014 Lok Sabha election by winning 37 of 39 seats in the state while BJP and its ally Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) won one seat each. AIADMK’s arch rival DMK and its ally Congress could not win a single seat last time.
While BJP will try to capitalise on the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to garner a big chunk of non-Congress, non-DMK votes, the Congress will try to take advantage of absence of a strong leader in opposition camp in the state. The BJP will also try to woo the voters loyal to J Jayalalitha as these voters will look towards a non-DMK, non-Congress alternative, preferably a national party like BJP as voting for the party that could form the government at the Centre will be seen beneficial for Tamil Nadu by the voters.
DMK and Congress will try to take advantage of vacuum created by Jayalalitha’s death as none of the AIADMK leaders could even think of matching her in terms of popularity in the state. In fact, this Lok Sabha election is the acid test not only for AIADMK but for also its allies like BJP. DMK and its allies, including Congress, are set to be the biggest beneficiary of the vacuum caused by Jayalalitha’s death.
Under the leadership of J Jayalalitha, AIADMK had bagged 44.3% popular votes and 37 seats, a gain of 28 seats over 2009 Lok Sabha election. BJP and PMK jointly bagged 18.5% and managed to win two seats in a wave in favour of then chief minister J Jayalalitha. A battered DMK could only bag 26.8% but failed to win a single seat, a loss of 18 seats in comparison of 2009 election. Similarly, UPA could only gain 4.3% popular votes but suffered a loss of 8 seats to come down to zero.
However, absence of charismatic figure like former chief minister and AIADMK Supremo J Jayalalitha will make it tough for AIADMK and BJP to retain voters and Congress and DMK are expected to be the biggest beneficiaries of this direct contest.